Reading good family books is a vital part of every child's development. From early childhood through teen years, stories shape the world and belief systems of girls and boys. Did you ever stop to think how those stories might be affecting pre-teen girls?
April is Prevent Child Abuse Month. Child abuse is the direct result of a lack of respect for the dignity and potential of children. Nearly 80% of child abuse is caused by family members. But it does not end there. Children are verbally and emotionally challenged at school. According to Prevent Child Abuse America, nearly 160,000 children stay home every day because of bullying.
Pre-teens are at special risk. In the United States alone, there are more than 11,000,000 girls between the ages 9 through 13. Girls face a special challenge. When girls are devalued through emotional abuse, they can develop a lifelong pattern of depression, estrangement, anxiety, low self-esteem, inappropriate or troubled relationships. They may have problems in trusting others and pass that mistrust along to their own children. Women are relationship experts, much more so then men. So if a mother or grandmother has a problem relating to others, what about her children?
So what contributes to the overall devaluing of girls? A significant factor is the stories that build negative thoughts and beliefs about the value of girls. Pre-teen books about male-power domination contribute to bullying, verbal and emotional abuse of girls. Violent stories cast boys as warriors and girls as victims. This enactment abuses the potential of children and confuses their reality.
Well-being makes the difference. According to Prevent Child Abuse America, well-being involves everyone at personal, family and community levels. Personal well-being includes hope and optimism that prevents abuse. Parents help build a positive family environment using hope-filled stories where girls make a significant difference for good. When girls are treasured, their self-worth increases. Their place in family and society is respected and honored.
How can parents create a positive influence on pre-teen children? Finding and reading meaningful adventure stories that value the contribution of girls and women is important. Books that offer a hope-filled alternative for pre-teen girls and boys. For example, The Rainbow Chronicles: A Bedtime Story for a New Day relates the story of Wilby, an eleven year old girl with a spiritual mission. She must find and return the Rainbow's End stolen from her land and restore its fortune.
As she journeys through Neer'stazone, Wilby uncovers a world of uniformity that dominates the imagination and thinking of its people. Flowers are manipulated. The color purple is banned. Wilby encounters men and women, boys and girls. Her courage and presence are more than a breath of fresh air - life-transforming events occur for people, families and the people of Eregon and Neer'stazone. Her self-determination results in a surprise ending of unexpected reversal. Enemies are forgiven, the land is reconciled and its people are reunited in good will. Hope prevails over ignorance. Children like Wilby and her friends serve as peer role models that make life better for everyone.
2007 is a year of hope. The girls of today become the mothers, business and civic leaders of tomorrow. To break the cycle of violence and improve lives of pre-teen girls and boys, telling quality bedtime stories is critical. Family books with positive messages like The Rainbow Chronicles provide hope and optimism to woman and pre-teen readers.
Dave Pipitone is a professional communicator, father of a pre-pre-teen and author of The Rainbow Chronicles. For information on creating hope in families , visit The Rainbow Chronicles website.